Letters | September 10, 2008 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - September 10, 2008


Libraries aren't cool


If you're looking for a cool place to go and read on a hot afternoon, don't go to a Palo Alto Library.

From May through Aug. 29 this year the Mitchell Park Library closed early eight afternoons, the College Terrace Library closed early five afternoons and the Main Library closed early three afternoons — all due to excessive heat (90 degrees or higher).

Not only are our libraries old and dilapidated, they're considered unsafe on hot summer afternoons. The cooling, heating, lighting and electrical systems in these 50-year-old buildings are inadequate.

These early closures will be avoided with the passage of the library bond to rebuild and renovate our well-used libraries.

In addition, at Mitchell Park the bond will provide space for 70,000 more books. Currently this facility has half the number of books it should have for the number of people it serves in our community.

To improve circulation and to add books to the collection we must add square footage to Mitchell Park so there is space for the books.

And if you think libraries are going out of style because of the Internet you need to know that Palo Altans are checking out more materials than ever — a 45 percent increase in just the last seven years — and more than 2,300 people walk into our libraries daily.

Susie Thom

Maplewood Place

Palo Alto

Fairmeadow backs bond


At its first meeting of the new school year, the Fairmeadow Elementary School Parents Teachers Association unanimously voted to endorse the library bond measure that will appear on Palo Alto's November ballot.

Revitalizing our libraries is essential to the quality of life of our kids, our community and future generations.

We urge all other Palo Alto PTA organizations to take steps to educate their members about this critical issue and we encourage voters to visit www.betterlibrariesforpaloalto.com.

Len Filppu

Ramona Circle

Palo Alto

Hope for BMR


Voters rightfully objected when the city allowed the few below-market-rate (BMR) units at 800 High St. to be priced so high as to exclude nearly everyone in need of BMR-housing. This rotten BMR-housing-carrot with its two tiny plazas fueled by a nearly quarter-million-dollar campaign chest barely won voter approval of 800 High's zone-busting mega-project.

How now is the Alma BMR development different than 800 High St.? Because it is the rare entirely BMR-housing development that lower-income people can actually afford. This is a major benefit to Palo Altans who lost much of their economic diversity when housing prices boomed.

Welcoming a large BMR development to town does not grant it immunity from our planning process or vetting by the community. I am sure we all need to hear more about its size, density and height as it moves along the process. I personally am concerned that the city grants more frequent exceptions to our sensible 50-foot height limit, and may consider doing so again here.

800 High St. was built with the understanding that its ramp and garage would be shared in the future with this BMR project — a selling point to get 800 High St. approved. The city and 800 High St. need to adhere to this agreement.

I hope we are open to the likelihood that this development will provide a well-designed, much needed community asset, just as I hope its nonprofit developers and the city will be open to our concerns and ready to make adjustments.

Winter Dellenbach

Barron Park

Palo Alto

Special needs?


Sarah Palin promises parents of "special-needs" children help when she gets to Washington. I support helping special-needs children as well. I also support helping children of working parents who cannot afford health care and children of parents who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina.

Will Palin "go to bat" for all needy children?

Republicans I know are proud to be the party of "personal responsibility." Does Palin pick and choose when one must be personally responsible and when one is allowed to count on governmental help?

That promise may get her support and that promise may be close to her heart, but is that "inclusive" thinking? Can Palin think, "What is good for the country?" or just what is good for people like herself?

Margo Schmidt

Addison Avenue

Palo Alto


Posted by hypocrisy at work, a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 9, 2008 at 3:26 pm

Susie Thom, what no mention that you're on the Campaign Steering Committee for "Better Libraries for Palo Alot"? How disingenuous. Even mentioning College Terrace even though it's not part of the bond.

Posted by No on the library bond, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2008 at 3:35 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 9, 2008 at 4:18 pm

You have all seen my offer to design, for free, the electrical and mechanical upgrades to air condition the libraries if the city pays for the installation out of their boodle funds. Now if I offered to paint the town red or some such...

Posted by I don't trust the library campaign, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2008 at 9:54 am

"And if you think libraries are going out of style because of the Internet you need to know that Palo Altans are checking out more materials than ever"
Considering that Susie Thom, author of this piece, is on the campaign steering committee, this is additional disingenuousness. She doesn't mention that the increase in "materials" is actually non-book items, a detail which completely undermines her point.

Posted by No on the library bond, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2008 at 9:57 am

Thanks for the information. These are just more reasons for me to vote against this bond.

Posted by To: I don't trust the library, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 10, 2008 at 10:02 am

Just curious how you know what the increased materials use are comprised of?

Posted by I don't trust the library campaign, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 10, 2008 at 10:47 am

Borrowing someone else's words from another thread Web Link, here's your answer.

Using the Library's own performance numbers (reported to the State Library), we see:

40% of the Circulation is attributed to "non-books" (Videos and Audios).

The yearly growth rate for this kind of circulation is just under 2% a year. Given the historical trends, then the Library would expect to see circulation of videos/audios (non-books) of about 50% by 2012, 60% by 2018, and 70% by 2025. The claims about needing "more space" seem to be justified by pushing "increased circulation" numbers at the voters--without telling them about the HUGE/GROWING component of videos/audios in the circulation numbers.

Not at all clear how investing upwards of $200M for "free" videos is a good use of the public's money.

Posted by Still don't get it, a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Sep 10, 2008 at 1:45 pm

For all this digital audio/video media, why not have the library pay for the right-to-use for its patrons. That won't take any space at all, and will allow patrons more convenient access.

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